Statutory warning – this post in no way is encouraging consumption of caffiene or nicotine. The views expressed are solely of the writer and an addict 🙂
I had thought about “confessions of an addict” as the title for the post but then it would have led in all kinds of directions 🙂
Yesterday I was watching some random movie. The protagonist has a lit cigarette in his hand (bottom of the screen has the statutory warning) and is in a heated discussion with another character and the character says something to the effect ” look at you! You don’t belong to this world. Nobody smokes anymore and here you are smoking and living with so called machismo”. Made me wonder. Machismo? Surely we have gone way beyond the Marlboro Man days and yes that kind of imagery perhaps got us into the habit. For me of course it was the crumple pack with a denim feel of Charms. But once in, I doubt if everyone we take a puff, we are feeling macho about it.
So am addicted. To caffiene and nicotine. Yes go ahead and judge me. Am sure you won’t be judging me as much for caffiene as you would for nicotine. I like my addictions. I am not going to say I know they are bad and I should stop. What’s the point of life if you are not addicted to some things. It’s not like I am the only one with addictions. I have mine and you have yours. I am not going to judge you for that.
But coming back to caffiene and nicotine. Only the true addicts will relate to what I say. That sip of coffee. That long first drag of cigarette. That feeling as both go down the throats and mingle with whatever they are supposed to mingle with and do what they do to the physiology and psychology of the person.
These two are extremely individualistic. They do not have a social context or a setting. Think about it. Out of all the cups of coffee that you have or the smoking that you do, what % of it is social? Yes you could be sitting in a coffee shop full of people and be sitting alone and giving your elbow exercise every time you take a sip. Or the smoke. Every time you smoke, it is not like alcohol that you more often than not are with people. It is mostly alone. So after a point ( having got through the social setting it was peddled in) it is about you and you alone.
Caffiene and nicotine, they are there with you in happy times, sad times, stress or euphoria. They are your companion when you are sitting and thinking. About work. About life. About relationships. About what’s bothering you. They don’t talk back. Give advise. Judge you. You are not doing it for social acceptance. If anything, smokers in this world are becoming pariahs. So are the people who consume coffee for what it is and not the imagery. There is a certain bliss, momentary slowing down of everything within your immediate environment. These are the downtimes that you get in day full of pace. You are with your thoughts and eyes are staring into space. The last sip of coffee or the act of stubbing out the cigarette is either done with excitement because you got the thought in your head that you wanted or there is an inaudible sigh of the mind that the downtime is over.
Yes people talk about health issues. How we are destroying our lives with these addictions. And these voices have become vociferous. Specially about smoking. And do you know why? Smoking perhaps is the most visible of all addictions. The spiralling smoke is visible to all. So are the stubs. So what’s visible, is attacked with all the vigour. Passive smoking becomes an issue. The smell (I will call it fragrance) becomes an issue. Also perhaps there is a direct impact on non smokers so it is condemned.
Tell me which addiction does not impact people around the addicts? Perhaps the impact is not direct but there is an impact all the same.
Drinking is socially acceptable. Being on social media all the time is acceptable. Being addicted to making money is acceptable. Being addicted to work is acceptable. And please let’s not talk about corporate culture of maintaining work-life balance. It’s all lip service to act as a great corporate. Tell me which organisation would not want its employees to think about work 24X7?!
So why are most of the addictions socially acceptable? Why do we not even think they are addictions? Boils down to larger social norms and conducts of living in a society or being part of a larger world. Individualism and doing something for One’s own pleasure goes against the norms of being part of the society. Individualism vs collectivism. “How dare you be so selfish and have no consideration for people around you?!!”
Being individualistic is not good. Doing something for your own pleasure is not good. Free will, while it is talked about as a good thing, is not to be encouraged. We may strongly deny it, this world is very much Orwellian. Perhaps not as draconian or explicit but it still is. Under the garb of “it is for your own good”, we expect everyone to conform. Those who don’t, are constantly pushed into a corner or an invisible space. The best example perhaps is to be seen in pubs today. Either you smoke outside (you are an outsider) or you are on display in the small smoking room within the pub. It’s like being in a fishbowl.
These are symbols of a society. A society which says that if you don’t conform, you are an outcaste. Everyone will look at you with that derisive reproach in their eyes as you smoke.
This post is about my addiction to caffiene and nicotine. It is perhaps more about nicotine because like I said it is so visible. But it is also about questioning conformity. Cigarette is symbolic.
(Image courtesy http://www.insider.gr)